As we close in on October 31, AiPT! will be reviewing and recommending various pieces of underappreciated scary media–books, comics, movies, and television–to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
There are few things better than a horror movie anthology done right. Anthologies keep the runtime short, audiences on their toes, and scares fresh. They distill everything great about the horror genre. If you’re looking for a good example of one, check out Creepshow.
Almost forty years later, Creepshow still holds up. Directed by George Romero and written by Stephen King, Creepshow draws its inspiration from the original Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror comics published by EC in the 1940s and 1950s. This comic book aesthetic saturates the anthology. The overarching story is about a little boy forced to throw away his horror comics. Then there are the intros and conclusions to each vignette that’s told via comic panels. Even the colors are comic book-y, with lurid colors that pop off the screen.
Father’s Day: The weakest of all the tales, “Father’s Day,” is about an annual Father’s Day reunion dinner for the descendants of a man named Nathan Grantham. The deceased Grantham is reanimated and goes on a murderous rampage. It ends with a neat freeze frame that fades into a page from the comic book the short is based on. Aside from well done creature effects, there is not much to this story.
The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill: Probably best known for Stephen King’s over the top performance, “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” is a fine little horror story that is equal parts funny and scary. The ending is shocking and makes sense in the context of the tale. Romero’s use of comic book imagery is particularly effective in this story.
Something to Tide You Over: Did you ever want to see Leslie Nielsen in a horror movie as a villain? What about Ted Danson as a womanizer? Then this is the tale for you. Before Dracula, Dead and Loving It and Cheers, there was “Something to Tide You Over.” Nielsen plays an obsessive husband who has a particularly nasty revenge planned for his unfaithful wife and her lover. Nielsen is in fine form as the psychopathic husband. Danson also does well in his role, but Nielsen and the special effects steal the show. From the comic book stylings to the special effects, one can argue that this is the best short in Creepshow.
The Crate: The tales in Creepshow deal with horrors of all types. “The Crate” is the only one that has a monster. It’s the story of Northrup and Stanley, two college professors and how they deal with a creature from the Antarctic. This is the one short that seems to run long. Instead of focusing it on a man who discovers a monster, we get two meandering stories. How Northrup deals with his drunk obnoxious wife is humorous, but the bits involving Stanley are weak. Though it generally strikes the right tone for the film, the ending comes off as silly.
They’re Creeping Up on You: More about psychological terror than the other tales, “They’re Creeping Up on You” is about germaphobe Upson Pratt. Pratt is an uncaring businessman who has no qualms about firing someone on Christmas and lives alone in his sealed penthouse. The only interaction that Pratt has with the outside world seems to be through an intercom that he uses to communicate. When a blackout strikes, cutting off outside communication, Pratt is left alone to deal with his fears face-to-face. This is the strongest story of the lot. The horror is one that the whole audience can identify with. The hordes of cockroaches are horrifying and the sense of claustrophobia is heightened by the camera work and lack of light. A scary story for everyone and downright terrifying to anyone with a fear of roaches.
Over the years, horror anthologies have become more common. Anthologies are as synonymous with horror movies as found footage films and slasher flicks. Creepshow still remains one of the best of the genre. Creative direction, great acting and the combined talents of Stephen King and George Romero are seen in each tale. Creepshow is far from perfect, but is a must-see for every horror fan.